On the same day that the SFMTA sent out a press release announcing the closure of the Montgomery Muni Station ticket sales booth as of 8 PM on February 3, Appeal staff and readers are reporting that the employees of that sales booth are encouraging riders to oppose that move.
According to the MTA’s release,
Starting Jan. 27, the SFMTA will deploy Service Ambassadors at the station during peak commute hours to let customers know about the closing, answer questions and direct customers to alternative sales locations. In an effort to make customers’ commutes easier, the SFMTA encourages all Muni customers to switch to TransLink.
The encouraged switch to TransLink is about more than just ease of commute, however. MTA spokesperson Judson True told the Appeal that “one of the reasons for TransLink adoption is the cost savings it can provide,” including cuts in staffing made possible by the streamlining of methods of payment.
TransLink didn’t come up when Appeal staffer Katie Doze went to the imperiled counter to replace demagnetized ticket this morning. She reports that the Muni employee staffing the ticket booth directed her to a petition and said “They’re closing this booth, do you want to sign a petition asking them to keep it open? We want to end this right away.”
When Doze asked them what her alternatives were in the future, TransLink was not mentioned. Instead, another employee at the booth said “They have not planned on that. I guess you’ll have to find another place where they sell and exchange.”
Doze also says the workers informed her that after February 3, they’d be out of jobs due to the closure, and that she should “call 311 and voice a complaint to help with the cause.” Another Appeal reader tells us that “the ticket booth guys were chanting ‘311, 311’ when I asked them what my alternatives were.”
True confirms that some of the employees of the closing booth might be laid off, saying that “we take no pleasure in these terrible budget conditions.”
When we asked if Muni employees soliciting riders was an accepted practice, True said “clearly, that’s not something they should be doing on city time.” When we asked if any amount of rider or employee protests could prevent this cut — in other words, if these employees imprecations were for naught — True refused to speculate.
Though it seems that Muni employees aren’t always making passengers aware of the TransLink alternative, customers will still get the Green Card Message on January 28 and Feb. 1, when TL reps will be working the station from 7-10 AM and 4-7 PM. According to a release sent by the MTA, they’ll be passing out free TL cards (ordinarily they’re $5) and answering rider questions.